Parents: welcome to bad parts of SpEd world

by rickcolosimo on March 15, 2011

Apparently No Child Left Behind is failing because it’s revealing that schools are leaving children behind. And so schools, rather than contemplate that they’re not doing well, are suggesting that goals be changed so that they can succeed.

Seriously? They’re going to change the rules because the schools are failing? Isn’t that exactly the point of NCLB in the first place? Standardized testing that couldn’t be tweaked, sidestepped, or BS’d into meaninglessness?

And redefining “proficient?” Are you kidding me? There’s a specific reference to a state that redefined “proficient” in a subject to increase the pass rate. What’s next here? 2+2= (any answer from 3 to 5?)

The funny thing, the tragic thing I suppose, is that the constant redefinition (always downward, of course) is exactly what happens to special ed students when schools fail to meet goals they set in advance. This “facing reality” is vastly more common with teachers and schools and districts that don’t know what they’re doing and don’t care. Those that care make changes. Those that know what they’re doing make changes.

This article on NCLB explains exactly why my take on special ed at this point is that it’s all about performance management. Goals are relatively easy to set, the pace should be adjusted on a student by student basis, and then it’s a matter of performance management to figure out what’s going on. Are there organic deficits in the child that limit learning pace or ability that were not known in advance? Maybe some element of adjustment is appropriate, such as when my son’s behavior took a six-month detour into extreme silliness and interfered with his overall learning during that period. I couldn’t imagine holding the school or the district responsible for that.

But when a kid has a 100 IQ, there shouldn’t be a lot of excuses for maintaining, and eventually increasing, pace of learning. Lots of data can solve all the objections that are running through the heads of the people who don’t want to be held accountable for this right now — comparing apples to oranges, in terms of kids and learning objectives, being the main source of objections. But just because things are difficult is no reason not to do them. My son doesn’t have a choice; neither do I. Neither should our schools, not if they want to regain the position of authority and trust they once had in America.

My younger son will be starting kindergarten in the fall. I have no illusions that there will be far less management, even in terms of goals for the year, than for my son on the spectrum. But our district is great on the special ed side; I feel like the people I work with care about my son, I feel like they care that he makes improvements, and I feel like that care isn’t motivated solely by eventually making his program cheaper (although I would be fine with motivating good behavior with monetary savings!).

What are your experiences with general education goals and objectives? Do teachers look at you cross-eyed when you talk about such things?

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